A flavorful salad dressing can be easily made by combining some simple ingredients together. I usually start with 2 parts oil and 1 part vinegar in my vinaigrette dressings. The oil and vinegar can be combined with a blender, food processor, whisk, or jar. In the end it really doesn't matter how you choose to combine the oil and vinegar so long as we get an emulsion (where the vinegar is finely seperated and suspended in the oil).
Blender and food processor: Start with the vinegar and any herbs & spices you want in the blender or processor. Blend briefly. Dribble in oil while blending until all of the oil is in the mixture. (I should mention that although several recipes call for using a food processor, I would prefer to do make the sauce in a bar blender. Often, it is harder to clean the food processor than a blender when dealing with extremely liquid foods.)
Whisk: Start with the vinegar and any herbs & spices you want in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the oil one tablespoon at a time for about half of the oil. Then whisk in the rest two to three tablespoons at a time.
Jar (my favorite): Start with the vinegar and any herbs & spices you want in a jar. Pour in one tablespoon of oil. Screw lid back on jar and shake vigorously. Continue pouring in oil and shaking until half the oil has been integrated. Continue by pouring two or three tablespoons at a time.
After the dressing is made, you can safely store it in the refrigerater for about two weeks.
Basic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
blend together slowly
1/2 cup basalmic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. rosemary, crushed
You'll notice that my recipe calls for 3 cloves of pressed garlic. Now, I don't believe in garlic presses because I don't want to pay $12 - $15 for a garlic press that is only useful when I need pulverized garlic. Instead, I use a Microplane Zester which also zests and grates when it's not pulverizing garlic (or ginger).
By the way, never use a garlic press for mincing garlic, because it doesn't.
Definitely do not start with the oil. Start with the acids, add your other flavorings, then slowly encorporate the oil at the end. Otherwise it won't emulsify properly and your dressing won't be as smooth as it could.
About garlic, I don't like garlic presses either. Mostly because they're a real pain to clean. I find the simplest way to get the same effect is to lay the garlic on a cutting board, place the flat side of a broad knife on it with one hand, and give it a good whack with your other hand. The garlic is smashed flat in the blink of an eye. You may need to mince the flattened garlic a bit to break it up.
This might be an excellent vinaigrette variant, but there is nothing basic about it. A really basic french vinaigrette uses plain wine vinegar (not balsamic) and no herbs or garlic. Salt and pepper are allowed though. It is very common to flavor it with Dijon mustard (and I recommend it), but I guess one could argue that that too is no longer truly basic, as it is not always used.
Balsamic vinegar is sweet, and you should only use it if you actually want that sweetness; it is not automatically "better" than regular wine vinegar for all uses.
For emulsifying, I usually use a touch of mustard... It makes the oil and vinegar mix together much easier. The recipes I usually use involve 3tbsp of oil for 1tbsp of vinegar, and one teaspoon of dijon mustard (or plain mustard, or mustard powder but not as good)... Add some garlic and herbs, and voila. Mixing doesn't involve any mechanical means (a whip in a bowl). Fewer dishes to do in the end
re: pressing garlic
I use a fork to press the garlic. I was told it woul be good first to put salt on to the carving board because it absorbs the essential oils of the garlic, so you don't loose them by pressing the garlic.
A bit late on the comment, but I just found this site. What a joy.
Anyway, I love replacing part of the balsamic with rice wine vinegar. It's not as acid as some other vinegars. It doesn't overrride the flavor of good balsamic and it cuts some of the cloying sweetness. It's actually become my favorite vinegar for more than just sushi rice.
After you smash the garlic with the side of the knife, you can keep on pulverizing in the same manner until you have a fine pulp that incorporates into the emulsion better than minced or crushed garlic.
Sometimes when i do not wish to do many dishes i add the vinegar and oil stright on the salad. i always add the oil first, though, because i find it helps spread the vinegar through the lettuce. Then i usually add some sea salt and herbs to spice it up a little.
Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2005 2:50 am Post subject: mix it up
The oil may help spread the vinegar through, but adding it first will cause your greens to darken and and become limp more quickly (the lack of surface tensions allows the oil to seep in through cuts and holes in the leaves). If you are going to serve the salad IMMEDIATELY I suppose that is ok, but I would reccomend dirtying a jar or small tupperware and mixing the vinaigrette beforehand.
Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 10:41 pm Post subject: BASIC VINAIGRETTE
I SMASH MY GARLIC WITH THE TINES ON THE MEAT TENDERIZING SIDE OF MY MEAT TENDERIZER. ONE GOOD WHACK!! AND YOUR GOOD TO GO. YOU CAN ALSO DO MANY CLOVES IN A ZIPLOC BAG (WITH THE TOP OPEN), AND THAT WAY YOU HAVE A LITTLE BAGGIE OF MINCED GARLIC, AND NO GARLIC SMELL ON YOUR HANDS.
Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 6:10 am Post subject: vinaigrette
I like your site. However, when I make vinaigrette, I'm never methodical and do not measure. I love making the dressing quickly and without fuss; that's the beauty of it. I pour some vinegar into a jar (yes, it's better to start with vinegar but i don't always), add sea salt and a bit of honey, then EV olive oil, and shake till done. If needed, add more oil or vinegar. I prefer wine vinegar or even a high quality cider vinegar such as Bragg's, but balsamic is good on certain salads, esp. if you use fruit like apples or pears with the greens. This dressing can be mixed with gorgonzola, salsa (for taco salad), any kind of herbs, and many other things for variety. Dijon mustard is an excellent addition; I don't always use garlic though...I love it but it doesn't love me. And my meat mallet rocks as a garlic masher...makes it into a paste that's great for everything.
thanks for posting this recipe. This dressing is so much healthier and tastier than anything you can buy: no hydrogenated oils. I no longer have those hundreds of bottles of dressing in my refrigerator door!